Sunday, July 23, 2017

Off the beach coast

When civilian boats voluntarily sailed through the English Channel to rescue the stranded soldiers off the bloodied beach of Dunkirk, France; I was almost brought to tears. After all, home brings a certain relief for most of us, and in this historical display of humanity and nationhood—two concepts that must necessarily, but do not always, go together—home came to hundreds of thousands of men, with gratitude to some yacht owners who braved the turbulent seas, with all the risk that this had entailed. The 1940s was a time when the world, led by the British, was at war against the strong Nazi forces.

Soldiers drowned as British ships capsized. Bombs were dropped from the air. The soldiers would only duck for cover rather than doing nothing at all. Airplanes crashed after being bombed themselves. The magic of the film was its ability to trap us into the visually disturbing and noisy montage of bombs and planes, blue skies and wide beaches, drowning and crashing, hunger and food, agony and relief—as if we were there ourselves.

Fun: Stephen Colbert interviews Kenneth Branagh, who knows his History lessons.

PS. On a more personal note, I remember my roommate, Tom, telling me he'd caught a glimpse of this place during his last trip to the UK for his neurology elective. During my last trip to Paris, I stayed very near rue Dunquerque, a few steps away from the Gare du Nord. I consider this my irrelevant, remote connection to the film.




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